U.S. Air Force member dies in self-immolation protest at Israeli Embassy

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27th February 2024 – (Washington) Late on Sunday, an American airman who had set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. “in an apparent protest” against Israeli raids on Gaza tragically succumbed to his injuries in a hospital. The individual was identified by the police as 25-year-old Aaron Bushnell from San Antonio, Texas, and his active duty status in the Air Force was confirmed by a spokesperson on Monday.

A vigil was held in front of the embassy gate on Monday evening, where people gathered with candles and posters to pay tribute to Bushnell.

According to ABC News, a livestream on the Amazon-owned platform Twitch began around 1pm local time on Sunday, showing Bushnell dressed in camouflage fatigues as he approached the embassy gate. He then poured a flammable liquid from a bottle and set himself on fire, describing his act as “an extreme act of protest” during the livestream. He was heard shouting “I will no longer be complicit in genocide” and repeatedly chanting “Free Palestine” before collapsing.

The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Department responded to a call for a fire outside the Israeli embassy in Northwestern Washington just before 1pm local time on Sunday. They arrived at the scene after the Secret Force had extinguished the flames, as stated by the city’s Metropolitan Police Department and Fire and EMS Department.

The Israeli embassy released a statement noting that the man was “unknown” to embassy staff and confirmed that no embassy workers were injured during the incident.

The video of the incident was reportedly removed from Twitch on Sunday afternoon, with a message stating that it violated the platform’s guidelines. However, it is still accessible on other social media platforms such as X, Facebook, and Instagram.

NBC reported a similar incident on 1st December, 2023, when a woman draped in a Palestinian flag set herself on fire in front of the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, in what the police described as “likely an extreme act of political protest.”

An opinion piece in Al Jazeera criticized U.S. corporate media for providing a “diluted and decontextualized” report of Bushnell’s self-immolation, including framing his protest as a violation of U.S. military regulations.

Various news outlets covered the incident with titles such as “Man Dies After Setting Himself on Fire Outside Israeli Embassy in Washington, Air Force Says” by The New York Times, “Air Force member dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy” by Politico, and “US airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy in Washington” by CNN.

The Washington Post initially titled their story “Who was Aaron Bushnell, the U.S. airman who set himself on fire?” but later changed it to “Airman who set self on fire grew up on religious compound, had anarchist past” in an update